BA in American Studies
The major in American Studies (AM) gives students a broad and critical understanding of the culture and society of the United States through a series of core courses, in-depth training in the scholarly discipline of an associated department, and comparative study of a non-American society. Through its affiliations with Boston-area cultural institutions, the program offers research opportunities in the rich historical, literary, and artistic resources of New England and the nation. The small size of the program encourages close personal and intellectual contact between students and faculty, and permits majors to devise an interdisciplinary academic program best suited to their individual needs. The American Studies major provides excellent preparation for graduate work in the humanities, the social sciences, or professional training in law, business, medicine, or communications.
A major in American Studies requires the completion of 10 courses, approved by the program, with a grade of C or higher in each course. To complete this major, students must fulfill the following requirements:
All majors must take two courses: CAS AM 200 and an AM course at the 200 level or above. These courses acquaint students with the critical problems and methods of American Studies. They stress the analysis of key configurations of ideas, values, and institutions that define specific periods of the American past and present and find expression in folklore, art, material culture, literature, politics, and mass media.
Students majoring in American Studies must take a total of seven CAS courses in addition to the core courses. Five of these courses must be taken in AM or within a single affiliated discipline. Affiliated disciplines include African American studies, anthropology, archaeology, economics, English, geography, history, history of art & architecture, philosophy, political science, religion, sociology, and women’s, gender, & sexuality studies. These courses must deal with aspects of the American experience and must be chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. Two additional courses must be taken that explore the literature, culture, art, history, or politics of a single non-American society. Students are urged to fulfill this last requirement in conjunction with their work in a foreign language and its literature. For example, a student fulfilling his or her CAS language requirement in French would be encouraged to take additional courses in French literature, art, or history.
Majors complete their program of study by undertaking a one- or two-semester senior project. The senior project may take the form of a research seminar (CAS AM 501 or AM 502) or an individual Directed Study leading to a senior thesis based on original research or criticism (CAS AM 491 or AM 492). In lieu of a senior project, qualified seniors may undertake a two-semester honors thesis (CAS AM 401 and AM 402), which must be evaluated by a faculty committee.
Students with a major in American Studies are encouraged to consider minors in affiliated departments in CAS or in other schools and colleges. Recommended areas of minors include visual arts, theatre arts, business administration, journalism, advertising, communication studies, public relations, and photojournalism.